Mo Bloggin'

A little o' this, a little o' that

Archive for the tag “Christmas lights”

All hail King Kale

So, today I ate the last of this year’s kale – sob.  I have to say I’m going to miss it, although maybe not for a couple of weeks.  I’ve eaten mountains of the stuff this year, and prior to February I’d never eaten kale before!  Once I started harvesting my own I know I probably ate a few kale bugs too. I was always rescuing spiders after I harvested leaves – the little ones set up house in the folds of the kale – and I’m sure I missed a few.  And all the green caterpillar worms.  When they got big enough to see, I’d of course pluck them off (and gave them to the chickens), but when they were small…well, I have a feeling I probably ate a few.  And aphids too.  A little protein here and there.

My favorite recipe, hands down, was the massaged kale with Gorgonzola salad.  It was easily the tastiest, and pretty easy to make, kept fairly well (24 – 48 hours) and best of all used up a few quarts of kale leaves.  Like, two large bunches.  When things were in full swing, I could make this salad a couple times a week and not make a dent in the kale supply.  I finally pulled up the remaining plants last week, though.  They had survived all the bugs and slugs dining on them, and several wickedly hard frosts, but in the end were getting thrashed by the dogs, since Daisy and Pal discovered that a mostly fallow garden is a great place to play – something about all that soft soil to chase each other in, and of course kale and rutabaga leaves to chomp on (Daisy and Farley, and the sheep, love the rutabaga leaves).  For now the rutabagas are all that’s out there, aside from my herbs, a few stray beets, and way too much Swiss chard.  I am so sick of chard that I’m just picking it now to give to the chickens.  The three monster rutabagas left look reminiscent of the mandrake babies in Harry Potter (only bigger) – I’m almost afraid to pull them up.

It’s been a busy month since my last post, with lots of yard work, as always.  The leaves have all fallen and I’ve been slowly working on raking the pasture, sending out bushels and bushels of leaves in the yard waste recycling.  It was nice last weekend, as I raked I could see a large flock of trumpeter swans in the fields across the street, and hear them honking greetings to newcomers flying in as I raked.  There are still masses of leaves out there, and a few bushels will go into the garden, along with the manure and hay mix from the sheep shed (plus their direct deposits, when they’re out gleaning), now composting nicely under a tarp (partly to keep the dogs out of it, partly to keep from getting too wet), and manure/straw mix from the chicken coop.

The bees seem to be doing okay so far.  There has been some die-off, with dead bees outside the hive and on the screen at the bottom of the hive.  If we get a halfway warm day and the sun manages to shine on the hive, a few of the girls might fly out, but mostly it’s been quiet.  I did find a number of dead varroa mites on the bottom board last month (removed it so there would be better ventilation).  And the wax moth larvae too.  Of course I never did any varroa mite control, so now I’m worried I may have blown it by resisting the preventative treatments most conventional beeks do in the late summer.  It’s too cold and wet to open up to check on them, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed they’re okay in there.

I took Pebbles and Cinnamon on a little road trip a few weeks ago to honeymoon with a handsome ram named Jocko.  They’re spending the month with him, while he wines and dines them and hopefully becomes the father of their lambs.  If all goes well, I’ll have lambs in late April.  I’m going back to pick up the girls the week after Christmas – right about the time the odor from the trip up there has finally dissipated from my car.  I put a large mat down in the back of the car, but they managed to pee on the area that wasn’t covered by it.  It’s been too cold and/or wet to get the shop-vac out there to shampoo the carpet, but I’ll have to bite the bullet and do it after they come home.  I miss the two of them, especially little Pebbles, though I’m sure Conan, Curly and Bo could care less (“more for us”).

The holidays have come swooping in, as they always seem to, somehow catching me off guard.  I think it’s because I try to resist the onslaught of commercialization (Christmas decorations up before Halloween is over) until after Thanksgiving (one holiday at a time, thank you very much), then all of a sudden it’s only 12 days away and I haven’t done any shopping…  Ah, well.  I put up some lights over the weekend, but still have the bulk of my decorating to do, too.  I am happy that I finished my Christmas cards tonight, squeezing them in around a large editing job I got in last week.  I have another large one due to arrive on Friday, so will be juggling the two over the weekend – who has time to shop?

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Winding up…

So, Thanksgiving came and went, and we are in the thick of the holiday season.  I, as usual, am running behind.  I have a good excuse this year – or a good reason (I really dislike the word “excuse” as it implies one is at fault) – but more on that later.  I put up some more Christmas lights tonight, and a few Christmas decorations, but haven’t really done much otherwise.  And I realized in putting up my lights that I have a bit of a light fetish.  I love Christmas lights, and seem to have way more than I need.  I have some of the old fashioned lights with the screw-in bulbs that I like to put outside on the porch railings.  And I of course have some of the mini-lights that have been the norm for the past couple of decades.  And this year I invested in some LED lights.  (And last year too, evidently – as I found some in my Christmas box that I must have purchased in some after-Christmas sale last year.)  As I went through everything this year I finally threw out several strings of the mini-lights that had bulbs out.  Last year they gave up the ghost mid-season, and half the string wasn’t lighting up.  For some reason I packed them up instead of tossing them.  

So, it’s less than 10 days to the big day now, and I’ve done almost no decorating and little to no shopping.  I was/am into the spirit of the season this year too, but things have kind of gotten away from me due to…well, stress, I guess.  I’m coping, but just barely sometimes.  There are a couple of things going on, but the biggest is that my beloved buddy, Cutter, was diagnosed with a nasal tumor three months ago and things have progressed to the point that I know a decision will need to be made soon.  Decision meaning I will have to euthanize my sweet, my amazing, my wonderful bigstrongboy. 

The tumor is inside his nasal passages – his left nostril has not passed air for at least three months due to the mass in there.  I spent three weeks salary to find out what was going on (with a CT scan, rhinoscopy, and inconclusive biopsy) in September, and learned that there’s not much you can do for a nasal tumor – radiation therapy maybe, but at his age, with his existing condition of epilepsy (we woke up to a grand mal seizure this morning, thank you very much), and quality of life issues – not to mention crazy-expensive cost – I didn’t pursue that.  Instead I’ve been giving him a plethora of alternative therapies, basically throwing sh** at the wall and hoping something sticks.  He gets drops of herbal tinctures (Western herbs) on his food, as well as Chinese herb powder, also mixed in his food.  He also takes a medication called piroxicam, which is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory  drug (NSAID – Tylenol and  Motrin are NSAIDs too) that is known to shrink tumors.  I don’t know if it has helped, but one always hopes.  I give him mushroom extracts and capsules – several species of mushrooms have great immune enhancing properties.  I’ve also been giving him a Chinese herb capsule called yunnan baiyou to help with the bleeding.  He has a bloody discharge from his left nostril, and one night even had a blow out – a sneezing fit left my office looking like a crime scene.  I cleaned it up, the smell of blood so strong, and my clean up rags covered with blood, feeling like an accomplice to some gruesome CSI plotline.  

So after two months of these semi-desperate treatments, he’s progressed to sounding like a bulldog with a cold.  I thought the Darth Vader breathing of last month was bad (I’d half expected to hear “Luke, I am your father” in sonorous tones in the dark of night, as his breathing noises developed), but this snorty, snotty sound now, where he has difficulty clearing a breathing path (like small children, dogs don’t “get” that you can just breath out of your mouth) is becoming more prevalent.  In sleep, the body wants to breathe through the nose; when eating or drinking, breathing through the nose is what the body is designed to do – anyone who’s ever had a cold knows the discomfort of trying to eat a meal, or get a good night’s sleep, while trying to breathe normally.  Cutter is coping well – it’s really just been the last two days that have me wondering how many days I have rather than how many weeks.  He’s a strong dog, and deals with things stoically (my strong Rottweiler boy), without complaints or drama, and he still enjoys his little pleasures – a good meal, a treat, some cuddles with mom (rubbing his head on my leg – oh, how I will miss this), but I can see that things are slowing down.  He’s not as engaged as he was even a week ago; he’s curtailing activity and is less likely to, say, immediately follow me around the corner of the house in hopes that I’m heading up to the chicken coop (where he will get an egg for a reward).  Little, subtle things that tell me he’s letting go – not quite done, and not suffering or in pain, but moving toward that awful day that will leave me broken.  I try not to dwell on it, try to live in the moment with him, but I have to think ahead and at least have a sketched out plan for “the day,” so I can proceed then with as much serenity as possible, to see him off without undue drama.  It would upset him to see me overly upset, though he knows I am already upset (as I sit here weeping over the keyboard, speaking of snorty, snotty sounds).  I’ve told him that he only needs to let me know when he’s done, and I will take care of things for him.  I preface this with telling him that he’s the best buddy a girl could ever have, and that even though I don’t want him to leave, I don’t want him to stay longer just for me, that I’ll be okay when he has to go.  We both know that’s not true, but we both try to believe it.

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